FOOD OF THE GODS
Whether powder, bar or butter all chocolate products derive from the seed of the Theobroma Cacao plant. The name Theobroma Cacao was originally given by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus and translates as ‘Food of the Gods’. While formally classified by Linnaeus in the 1700's AD the cacao plant actually has a rich history in south America dating all the way back to the Olmecs who first used it around 1500 BC. Used as currency by the Mayans, reserved as a sacred, nourishing beverage for royalty and soldiers by the Aztecs; cacao has been a pivotal food in building and powering these great civilisations. Through the ages, standing the test of time, cacao rightfully claims its title today as 'Food of the Gods'.
What the ancients knew intuitively science today is proving to be true. From Cacao's rich magnesium and chromium content to its dense antioxidant levels science is uncovering more and more ever day about cacao's health benefits. From 2000 to 2012 alone, more than seventy human intervention studies have been done on the components of cacao. Much of this research focused on the powerful phytochemical group known as flavanoids. Of all the flavanoids studied the findings found around the compound Epicatechin have proven to be the most interesting and exciting with early research showing it to be beneficial to cardiovascular function and health.
For thousands of years humans have chosen foods based not only on their nutritional benefits but also on how these foods made them feel and perform. Cacao is no different. Rich in theobromine (a compound from the methlyxanthine family which includes caffeine) Cacao was chosen for its ability to enhance performance, mood, and concentration levels. While a member of the methylxanthine family alongside caffeine, theobromine actually has a much gentler stimulating effect than its sister compound, providing a gentle and beneficial vasodilating effect to the heart muscle. With blood flow so pivotal in preventing and managing major diseases such as heart disease, alzheimers and stroke this is an exciting area for future research.
When choosing cacao varieties many companies choose price over quality opting for the cheaper breeds of cacao such as Trinitario and Forastero. For us quality comes first and this is why we use the the rare Criollo variety for Chocolate Pulse. The Criollo tree originates in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean islands and Sri Lanka. Only 5% of the world’s production is Criollo- this is what makes it so rare. The Criollo variety is notoriously difficult to grow, due to its extreme vulnerability to a variety of environmental threats. The beans colour are an off white to pale pink colour and their taste is described as delicate yet complex. Considered to be the “prince of cacaos,” we feel our customers deserve the royal treatment bestowed by this bean.
Cacao beans are freshly split from the pods and then fermented under control temperature at around 40°C / 104°F before being washed and then simply dried in the sun. The next step is to machine crack the beans into nibs with a fan being employed to blow away the thin papery skins which surrounded the beans. The nibs are then fed into a hydraulic press that squeezes them, pressing out the buttery golden oil. Once the oil is removed the concentrated cake left behind is simply cold-milled to a powder and then fine sieved for use as cacao powder in our Chocolate Pulse.